Carving with kittens: a story in photos

So, today wasn’t a very productive day. I managed to get some watering and weeding, but just didn’t have the spoons left to do more outside.

In an attempt to get at least something done today, I decided to continue practice carving on the spoon blank that came with my carving kit. After my husband was able to sharpen the curved blade of the sloyd knife, I had been able to test it out a bit, but not much more.

Today, I actually got some real progress today.

My husband came down with me and kept the kittens busy as much as he could, before he had to leave. The kittens, however, were much more interested in what I was doing.

Especially Leyendecker.

Then Saffron.

Okay, not so much interested in what I was doing, as they were in getting onto the front of me. In between trying to eat my hair and wrestling with each other on my shoulder.

Eventually, the forced their way into my arms, and that was it. No more carving.

They absolutely exhausted themselves, climbing all over me, it turns out. Here, Leyendecker is using Saffron as a pillow, while Big Rig was busily licking the inside of my ear. !!!

That really, really tickles.

And it’s really, really exhausting for kittens, too, it seems…

Big Rig slithered her way onto the pile and eventually settled under Saffron.

It wasn’t long before Turmeric joined them, and I had four kittens in my arms.

Turmeric’s head is actually visible in the above photo. It’s just hard to see it against Saffron’s belly.

Nicco came to check things out, but she was more interesting in Beep Beep, who was in aggressive grooming mode.

Then Beep Beep jumped onto the pile, and lay down.

Right on top of them.

Before I knew it, I had this…

Yup. They squirmed out from under her, and started nursing.

In my arms.

It was all I could do to keep my arms held in angles to keep them from sliding right off.

Thankfully, I already had my phone in my hand to take pictures, so I was able to use voice to text and message the girls to come rescue me.

Beep Beep heard them coming, so she jumped down, but the babies stayed.

My daughter was able to get a few photos, and that is the only reason why I have any pictures at all of the carving progress! LOL You can see the underside of the spoon on the table. The bowl has been carved out and now I am shaping it. The handle is intended to be a swoopy stem for the mushroom at the end.

With the girls’ help, I was de-kittened, the sharp stuff got put away, and I was able to escape. 😀

My arms are shredded.

It was worth it. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Well, that didn’t quite work out

Today, I finally made it down to the basement to do some practice carving, using the spoon blank that came with the carving kit.

While talking to one of my daughters about my mother’s request to carve her a mushroom, she had a brilliant suggestion.

Make a spoon with a mushroom at the end of the handle.

Well, that sounds like a great way to get my practice carving in!

The first problem was, kittens.

All of the kittens. 😀

Plus Beep Beep, of course.

It took several minutes just to open the storage box, and probably another 15 or 20 before I de-catted myself enough to get started.

The first thing to do was mark off the spoon blank.

Pretty basic.

It’s typically recommended to carve out the inside of the bowl, first, which meant I could finally break out the curved sloyd knife.

While fighting off kittens.

That… didn’t quite work out.

I realize I got a cheap kit, but I was quite happy with the other two knives when I first tested those out. The sloyd knife, however, seemed to be completely dull.

At one point, I figured maybe it was because I was using a different wood. My previous practice carving was on lilac, which I’ve read is really great to carve. So I tested one of the other knives on the handle.

It cut beautifully. You can see where I made a few quick cuts to start removing excess material on the handle. What little I got out of the bowl took a surprising amount of effort. Mostly, the curved blade wanted to just slide across the surface.

The kit came with a leather strop, suede on one side, smooth on the other, and a polishing compound. Which doesn’t work too well on a curved blade, at all, and certainly isn’t enough to create an edge, when there barely is one.

I have since brought it to my husband, and his significant collection of sharpening tools. He did some research on how to sharpen a sloyd knife, and while he was able to get an edge on it, it would be a lot easier to make sharpening tools out of dowel.

After I gave up trying to carve with a dull knife, I let the kittens go wild. The basement is nice and cool, but I think the kittens were enjoying the warmth of a human to crawl all over and snuggle into.

Until, that is, there was a mom available…

And what a good mom she is! Here she is, loving on Nicco.

As you can see, Leyendecker decided to get in on it, as I was taking the above photo!

He had ulterior motives, though. Nicco was blocking access to Leyendecker’s nip! LOL

Big Rig joined in, too!

While all that was going on, Saffron and Turmeric were crawling all over my shoulders and attacking my hair.

David had come downstairs with me and had jumped to the top of some shelves to get to one of the windows.

Then he fell into the giant plant pot I’ve got waiting for our umbrella tree.

I’m pretty sure his getting in was an accident, but he seemed to like it in there!

Even when I took the pot down so he could jump out, he wouldn’t! I had to tip him out. 😀

So, anyhow. That was my attempt at using the curved knife to practice carve a spoon. Hopefully my next attempt will go much better!

The Re-Farmer

First attempt at wood carving

I just couldn’t wait to try out the new carving knives! I ended up using only two of them, though.

After looking at the bits and pieces in the basement, I chose a small piece of lilac to practice on.

It is resting on the leather breastplate my husband made for me.

I was not about to use the carving blades on that bark, though…

I used my K-Bar instead. The wood was surprisingly green, for something that was cleaned up from storm damage some 8 months ago!

I didn’t think to get a picture of the safety glove. There is a pair of them, and they can be worn on either hand. It fit remarkably well, considering I have big, wide man-hands.

Hhhmmm… that may be why it fit well… 😀

It was also very comfortable to wear. I thought it might be really coarse and scratchy, but not at all. It felt like a normal glove.

These are the two carving knives I used. I can’t remember what either of them are called right now.

I started by practicing push and pull cuts to flatten a piece at each end…

…though only one end showed the colours inside; the stick was slightly thicker at the other end.

Then I practiced different methods of making V cuts.

Detail work is going to need a lot more practice. 😉

After that, I worked on the spiral around the piece, using that to practice different ways of cutting and switching up between the two blades.

I’m rather happy with how it turned out, considering I’ve never carved before. The lilac would was nice to carve with. The blades themselves…

I can see myself wanting to pick up higher quality ones in the future, if I find myself carving more often. While not the cheapest set I saw, it was hardly the highest end, either. I found myself sharpening them almost from the start. The edge held fairly well after I did, so it seems they didn’t arrive as sharp as they could have. Still, they did the job quite well for the learning process it is.

Next time, I’ll find something different to use that curved blade on. 😀

Altogether, I’m glad I picked this up!

The Re-Farmer